DSFH- Dec 2019
Elodie - A beautiful race to meet our baby
Before being introduced to hypnobirthing by Barbara, I didn’t know what was a birth plan, never heard about the doulas, and had a quite negative opinion about hypnosis in general for knowing only what we can see on TV shows… Our “birth plan” was to go to Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital because that’s where the ambulance would bring us. We would basically be confident that the doctors know their job and therefore what is best for our baby and us. As all my friends before me, I would have an epidural, because it would be stupid to go into unnecessary pain. I was ready to be ‘not so difficult’ or ‘exigent’ in my expectations for this birth and adapt to whatever situation would be offered to me.
Well, all this was my plan before meeting Barbara and taking the hypnobirthing course…which both completely changed the course of my pregnancy and baby’s birth.
The hypnobirthing course first helped me getting educated about the birthing physiological process through which my body and baby will go the day of my baby’s birth. I really enjoyed this part of the training as a biologist since the method relies on scientific studies. Moreover, I discovered later on that this comprehension was essential for me to visualize the different steps during the birthing process and help my body through them. The book also provides a history behind the different birthing methods through time, as well as their pro and cons for the mother, the baby and the medicals points of view. That part was also very important to understand the processes and policies at the hospitals and be able to make informed decisions together with the medicals. Then, taking the hypnobirthing course with Barbara and two other mums helped me gaining confidence that I was able to have an unmedicated birth for my baby and myself. First, we made practical exercises which helped applying the method where it wasn’t always easy to understand how it would help us. This was the case with the visualization exercises especially, for which I was quite skeptical at first. These exercises helped me relaxing and leveraging my level of stress during the pregnancy and allowed me to enlarge the pallet of tools for managing pain during the birth. Then, because we were three different mums, with different cultures, different experiences and different fears, we all had different questions to ask, which we would never think about otherwise. This interaction was very useful for each other’s to share, learn, and thus widen our spectrum of preparation. Finally, we could discuss the birthing process with someone who is not emotionally involved and had a broad range of experiences in different hospitals and various ‘types’ of birth. After every session, I came back home and shared all the advices and tips learned from the many experiences of Barbara as a doula. I think this was the highlight of the course and the most precious information collected through my preparation, and helped us to establish a birth plan that was in line with our wish, the procedures and policies of the hospital we choose, and to select a doctor that would support us in our choice of birth.
It is therefore relaxed, confident and empowered that we approached the birth of our son which started on Wednesday 11th of December 2019, five days before ‘due date’. I went to work in the morning as usual, but felt quite tired that day, and nearly fall asleep during the lunch. Thus, I decided to listen to my body and went back home in the afternoon to have a rest. I listen to ‘affirmations for an easy birth’ script and slept for two hours. I woke up at 3pm to go to the restroom, but before I could sit on the toilets, I heard a big “CRACK” from the left side of my belly and a gush of water dropped! I immediately wondered if my membrane broke, but wasn’t quite sure of course. I sent a message to my husband and Barbara to inform them of what happened, and let them know that I was fine and having no contractions yet. Barbara confirmed that I was losing amniotic fluid which was pinkish color. I knew that a broken membrane means that I had a limited time before going to the hospital as the baby’s environment wasn’t sterile anymore, but I was GBS negative and felt very calm and alert, therefore I decided to wait for things to develop when it will be time for it. My husband came back home, pretty excited that the big day finally arrived! He started collecting all papers and things we would need at the maternity, making sure we were not forgetting anything. Once we felt ready with preparations, and as the work still didn’t start, we decided to go for a walk at HRC and met Barbara on our way. We agreed that in the eventuality that the work wouldn’t start, I would still go to KMC in the evening and let her know when we do. We made two laps walking and came back home with the plan for us both to take a shower and have a dinner before heading to KMC. I started feeling the urge to go to the hospital while my husband was cooking, and we agreed not to delay things too much, ate and headed for the clinic at 8pm. I got my first contraction going from the car to the emergency door.
Arrived at KMC, my husband took care of the registration while I was taken in charge by the nurses. After few questions about what happened earlier during the day and the usual blood pressure and temperature checks, I am installed in a room where they install the monitors to check my babies heart rate and contractions. A doctor arrives and ask me “how do you know your water broke, this is your first pregnancy!”. Ha! First test! The old me would have gladly fired-up, but Barbara prepared us for being very calm with the medicals in all situations to get the most of them, and I therefore methodically answered with the facts. He then announced me that he will check my dilatation, which I decline knowing that the more manual interventions the more risks of infection. He insisted saying that these were the policies, but I knew I was right, and therefore kept control over myself and calmly but firmly continued stating that because my water broke I wanted to limit the checks in order to minimize the risks of infections, that they will have to send me to DSFH where I will be checked immediately upon arrival so there was no need of duplication, and that anyway I wasn’t yet into labor so there was no emergency for checking the opening my cervix. I was almost as much surprised by his quick acknowledgement than I was by his stubborn assessment earlier, but he finally gave up and asked the nurses to hurry to get me prepared to be sent to DSFH. We texted our doctor in Fakeeh that the day had come so that she would meet us there. They installed an IV (which is necessary in case of emergency and not negotiable), put me in the ambulance, and few minutes later we were on our way to Jeddah with Barbara with me and my husband following behind with the car. During the travel to DSFH I was lying in the rocking ambulance and tried to relax with breathing exercises and closing my eyes, remembering the hypnobirthing scripts. That’s when I started applying the breathing and visualization methods learned during the pregnancy to manage pain and ease the birthing process. I heard the nurses and Barbara discussing but I am already in the process of getting into myself, breathing calmly and trying to connect with my baby. I had three surges on the way and we arrived in DSFH in 50min at about 10pm.
For the first part of my labor, I was installed in a comfy room where Barbara installs the relaxing music and massages my feet with lavender oil. She is inflating the ball in case I would like to exercise, as she thinks we need to prepare for a long labor since I didn’t have many contractions before arriving to the hospital. During this time my husband is taking care of the paper work. But this wasn’t going to be the marathon I prepared for… At his return I am already not having fun anymore, as the pace of the surges started accelerating a lot and being very intense. I remember asking Barbara if that was normal that my surges were so much close apart, and her having a mixed feeling about it. At that moment I thought: “what a stupid! You asked for unmedicated birth and there you go! There is no way you can stand such pain for more than 12h!”. Barbara teaches my husband how to massage my back and though his first attempts were not really relaxing for me, he quickly gets the move and I appreciate his help. Barbara would often remind me to breathe deeply, and every time she did she helped me going back into the relaxing zone. Though I asked for unmedicated natural birth with minimal interventions, the nurses still had to check the baby’s heart rate and contractions time to time. I was really shocked to discover that despite this being a routine check, it absolutely didn’t go smoothly as the assets would not easily capture the signal and disconnect every time I moved. Thus they asked me to lay on my back to ease the process, but this was the worse position for me, I couldn’t stand it and it really disturbed my birthing flow. If there was one thing to change to this birth story, I wished I had been stronger in refusing these checks to be that long and interfering with the birthing process.
The surges were intense but efficient and I dilated to 9 cm in three hours! No wonder this was such intensive work…While I am transferred to the delivery room, I feel restless as the pace of surges leaves me no time to relax in between waves. I am in pain during the monitoring times as they ask me to be on my back. In order to cope with the pain of the intense surges, I kept repeating myself one sentence from the hypnobirthing script “every surge brings you closer to your baby”. I think that sentence really helped me accepting each surge as a new one and not expecting one that would be worse than the last. My obstetrician was performing massage of my perinea to ease the birth path, but this was inducing even more my surges which was unbearable, and so I was begging for her to stop. As she didn’t listen to my call, I eventually kicked her quite hard…which had the good effect to make her stop. The descend phase was quite long for me, and with time I now think the labor was in fact posing. But at the moment I started fearing that my pushes were not efficient and I was desperate that my baby didn’t show up yet while I expected this phase to be quick in fact. Hopefully, my husband, Barbara and the doctor kept encouraging me. The later noticed that my baby’s head would go back inside after each push, and suspected a cord around the neck. We discussed and agreed that she would use a ventouse to help reorient his head into the birth path and with a long push he came out, at 2h35 on Thursday 12th of December. He didn’t cry and was quite alert. My husband cut the cord after it ceased to pulse, and my baby was put on me for skin to skin. The placenta was delivered naturally quickly after the birth and our baby was weighted, measured and transferred to his dad for skin to skin while my inner muscle was repaired to original with three little stiches inside. We were then left skin to skin in the delivery room for more than two hours.
We were then transferred to a pretty and large bedroom with all comfort for all three. I was provided with a lot of pain killers which I didn’t need as I felt very fine and alert, and full of energy to take care of my baby. This was obviously not the birth I expected as no one would have expected a 4,5h labor for a first delivery, they are certainly things I had like to improve or change for the next birth if I have to, like better training on deep breathing and avoiding monitoring as much as possible. But I am very glad for the healthy birth that was offered to my baby and myself, and this wonderful experience for which we keep an extremely good memory with my husband. In that, we are very thankful to Barbara for her help, support and guidance.